Peace, stability in Afghanistan key to regional socio-economic development: FM

ISLAMABAD, May 6 (APP): Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday reiterated that peace and stability in Afghanistan remained vital for the socio-economic development, connectivity and prosperity of the region.

Addressing a joint press conference with the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang after holding 4th Pakistan China Strategic Dialogue, he said “We will continue to work together with all stakeholders for peaceful, stable, prosperous and united Afghanistan.”

While referring to the long-standing and time-tested friendly ties between Pakistan and China, he said the two countries, like in the past, would continue to support each other in the decades to come.

The minister reiterated Pakistan’s firm support for China “on all its core issues, including One-China policy, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea”. “We are committed to remaining engaged with China to promote south-south cooperation, especially in light of emerging global concerns like human-induced climate change,” he added.

The minister further termed Pakistan-China friendship as irreversible, ‘a historic reality and a consensus choice of the two nations’.

Bilawal also expressed gratitude to the Chinese leadership for its generous and timely assistance as their country was facing the meltdown effects of the global economy.

About China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Bilawal termed it ‘a win-win economic initiative, open to all investors around the world’.

He reiterated Pakistan’s abiding commitment to its high-quality development, adding the CPEC remained a shining example of the Belt and Road cooperation, which spurred the socio-economic development, job creation and improvement in the livelihoods of the people of Pakistan.

Bilawal appreciated China’s “principled and just stance” on the issue of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

The foreign minister said that the two countries were celebrating the 72 years of friendship.

During their delegation level talks, they discussed the entire spectrum of bilateral friendship and ties, adding they were also celebrating the completion of decade of CPEC.

The foreign minister said that engagement of the Afghan authorities was must and it was their consistent message to them ‘help us help you.’

He said they discussed how to best achieve peace and stability in the region, adding to unlock the potential of Afghanistan for the benefits of the Afghan people, stability and peace there was critical.

For them, he said the core issue, the red line was the issue of terrorism which posed serious threat to the regional peace and stumbling block in the way of prosperity of Afghan people.

He said that during his recent SCO-CFM meetings, they discussed different projects within framework of SCO including CASA, Trans-Afghan railways, but all these projects hinged upon addressing the security issues in Afghanistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Chinese FM Qin Gang said that the all-weather cooperation and friendship between the two countries had been forged by history and consensus.

He thanked Pakistan for its support to China’s core issues and reiterated support to Pakistan’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and national development.

He viewed the increasingly fortified and deepened cooperation between the two countries which was contributing to the world’s peace and development.

Referring to PM Shehbaz’s recent visit, he said, frequent interaction among them would further strengthen the strategic cooperation.

He also expressed satisfaction over the pace of work on CPEC and stressed upon exploring new areas of cooperation in agriculture and energy.

The Chinese foreign minister said they encouraged Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan and also welcomed quality products from Pakistan into China.

He reiterated to continue their all out support to Pakistan’s economic stability in the face of global economic situation and the natural disasters.

He further said that Foreign Minister Bilawal had informed about the measures for protection of Chinese citizens in Pakistan. The Chinese foreign minister said that mutual flights between Pakistan and China had become normal.

Qin Gang also acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices and contributions in the fight against terrorism.

About Afghanistan, he stressed that international community should take concrete efforts to alleviate sufferings of the Afghan people and expressed the hope that the trilateral dialogue would create further consensus on the issue of Afghanistan among countries of the region.

Pakistan and China were committed to help in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, he added.

He also thanked for the warm hospitality extended to him and apprised of his meeting with President Dr Arif Alvi.

Earlier, addressing a delegation-level meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister at the Foreign Office, he also lauded China’s firm support to Pakistan’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and national development as well as China’s principled and just stance on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

“There is absolute unison when it comes to the Pak-China strategic partnership,” he added.

He said China had always proved to be a reliable partner and a trusted friend.

He said a recent manifestation of this friendship was reflected by the Chinese assistance in the evacuation of Pakistani nationals from Sudan.

Friendship with China was a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy, he reiterated.

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